Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Care

Christmas 2009/Iowa 
There's something about the winter landscape that turns my heart upside down -- the amplified light in falling snow, trees outlined in stark contrast against the sky, sunlight sparkling through icicles.
Christmas is a time of mystery and joy, happiness and loss.  I've come to realize that if you live long enough the season of joy will have its edge of sorrow. There's the cold in the sharp winter wind and darkness falling in late afternoon. People we love fiercely are no longer here. Those we thought would always be with us simply aren't. People don't 'lose' a cancer battle. Let's get the emphasis right.  Cancer steals too many.

And in the ebb and flow, the Christmas carols, wonderful food and festivities it's easy to forget one of the best things we can give ourselves is stillness. It's essential.
Here's what I've found that helps capture the beauty of Christmas.

 1) Make a joyful noise.  I started my preparations last Saturday, slowly unwrapping the Christmas boxes and ornaments.  Every ornament in my collection has a story. The decorated tree, once finished, becomes an album. No decorator tree here, with everything matchy-matchy.

Some of the ornaments  date back to -- hang on -- the 50's so in today's vernacular these would be considered "vintage."   The ornament here is from a gifted couple who turned the unspeakable loss of their infant son into a celebration of each and every day they had him in their lives.  It's so rare to read about people like Bill and Sharon - they don't have 150,000 twitter followers, or a foundation, or a big this or that.  They have hearts so large mine swells writing about them.  
A priceless gift.

We all know someone like them, people whose grace and beauty are like manna from heaven. I'll be calling them these week.  reconnecting with friends is such "joyful noise!"

2) Create a new tradition.   Scaling back the Christmas cooking is an act FOR both mental and physical health.  Do we really need a tray with ten different cookies?  Nice to see in a magazine but in real life: my sister and I divided the food prep in half and with a twist:  I'm trading all the cookies for one incredible recipe for caramels from my friend Laura T at The Spiced Life

3) Celebrate the good in the world.  If you haven't seen what the awesome Bloggess has been up to, please read this write-up in the Washington Post. about her and find your way to pay it forward.  

4) Resolve -- Make a firm decision about your health and keep it alive!  If you need an exercise buddy leave me a comment and we'll work something out!  Last week I recounted my path toward fitness in a guest post --  'The Accidental Athlete'  -- I wrote for journalist Mary Knudson's blog,  Heartsense.  Hope you can check that out!

5) Let loose with the four-letter words: Love. Hope. Care. Cure.  You have all enriched my life this year beyond measure.  Be good to yourselves, be good to each other and remember this incredible message posted by The Bloggess in her Christmas Miracle Post: 

From @TheBloggess in true Christmas spirit.
Thanks for being part of my life.  Livestrong,


Debbie said...

Very beautiful and sweet and so very truly from your heart. I love when I read something that I know is so authentic and everything I read from you is so, and this post especially so for some reason. Maybe because it is a more personal glimpse into you, your life and what you hold dear. Thanks so much for sharing your self with me:)
Love, Deb

Jody said...

And vice versa, Deb:) Thanks for being part of what makes my world wonderful:)
love to you,

Lani Horn said...

love this, jody. beautifully written and full of wisdom. you have found the spirit of the season.

Jody said...

Thank so much, Lani. Getting to know you has been one of the gifts of the year.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post Jody - really in the true spirit of Christmas. I started to read it quickly at the begining, but then had to stop, slow down and savor the wisdom and beauty of your words. This is a keeper for sure! May you and your loved ones be filled with a spirit of peace and joy this Christmas and may this continue into the New Year and all the years to come xxxx

Lauren said...

Everything about this blog was beautiful. It is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for refocusing my perspective.

Happy Holidays!

Lauren (www.BreastCancerRegistry.org)

Nancy's Point said...

Thanks for this thoughtfully written post reminding us to slow down and think about the really simple, but important aspects of the holiday season. Nice photos too.

Annemieke said...

Dear Jody,
You have captured the spirit of this season so well ! It is a time to celebrate but also to reflect. This year brought me loss but also lots of wise lessons and amazing friends. Highlight to me was finally meeting you, my non blood sister and you and Steve event out of your way to make my first Challenge unforgettable and you succeeded. Throughout the year you thought me so many wise lessons which allowed me to help others. So while I'm finally getting ready to fininsh putting the lights into my tree (yes I know, way to many) I'll be counting my blessings and you are on the top of my list. Thank you fotr this beautiful blog and all the other amazing ones. Big hug and love, Annemieke

Beth L. Gainer said...

Your posting was simply beautiful. Thank you for providing such great material! I now have you listed on my blogroll.